By Michael Evanko
The Youngstown State University volleyball team successfully bumped and set and spiked their season into action on Aug. 30 with wins against Saint Francis University, Bucknell University and The Citadel, winning a combined nine sets to two.
The team is looking to regain confidence in 2019 after a disappointing 7-22 record last season.
“I think all individually we all have different skills we wanted to work on, and as a group it came together,” senior Aleah Hughes said. “It worked out well for us today.”
Junior Margaux Thompson was proud of the team’s offseason improvements.
“We really worked on team chemistry over the summer and our preseason,” Thompson said. “So, a lot of us are here early just work on welcoming new people in and making them feel comfortable. So, I’d say team chemistry is a big thing for us.”
Thompson also said the team’s energy and chemistry may lead to more success this year.
“I think that this year will bring a lot more energy, and we have a lot more depth on our bench. We just have more options in general,” she said.
Now that the season is underway, coach Aline Scott has one goal: Aim high.
“Our biggest goal is to make it to the conference tournament,” Scott said. “It’s been a while, and I think that’s my expectation is that we’re going to be there.”
The players themselves are making their own plans to improve from last year.
“We have a lot of newcomers that definitely are adding a lot of new things to our roster overall,” Thompson said. “I think overall we’re just a better team this year.”
The goal of being a better team is raising the team’s expectations going forward.
“We are trying to work together in order to get those, and we’re just trying to improve and get better from last year,” Hughes said.
After a 7-22 finish in 2018 and winning one game at home and in conference play, the team needed to find a way to bring home more victories this season.
Scott said the team hopes ball control remains solid.
“If you can get more transition out of our players, I think we can win long rallies and give ourselves more opportunities,” she said.
The Penguins still have a long road ahead until they reach the conference tournament in late November. However, the players are satisfied with the way they started their 2019 campaign.
“It’s awesome; we have three wins under our belt now,” Thompson said. “I think everyone’s feeling pretty good about that.”
“I thought we did well,” Scott said. “We got an end of the game and had a great performance. We started passing, we broke down a little bit in the second one, but our offense came through for us.”
The Penguins will look to keep their win streak alive heading into the weekend. The team will be on the road facing Niagara University, Cornell University and the University of Hartford to end the weekend.